The Coiffure Mary Cassatt Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Coiffure offers us another example of the influence of Japanese art on the career of American Impressionist, Mary Cassatt. This design was printed in 1890-1891 using traditional techniques that we rarely see today.

The composition is particularly interesting, as we see a female figure, only partially clothed, adjusting her hair in front of a mirror in her bedroom. She sits at the bottom of her bed, as she starts to prepare herself for the day ahead. Once one's attention has initially been taken by the female figure, we then start to see the delightful patterns that adorn both the wall to her left, but also the carpet beneath her feet. There is also the addition of the bedspread which is striped red and white. The tones are not overly bright, but this maybe as a result of the time that has passed since, perhaps muting some of the colours from the impact of light across the past century or so. There would have been a multi-stage process to putting these prints together, but the initial work may have been faster than working with oils that are applied in multiple levels.

Cassatt produced a series of Japanese-inspired prints that all focused on female portraits within domestic settings. These differed from her oil and pastel work because of the very different techniques that were used to create them. There have been comparisons with the work of Kitagawa Utamaro and Japanese art was well known within Europe during the time in which Cassatt was living there - she unquestionably would have come across that artist's work at some point and the similarities are too strong to be purely a coincidence. Those knowledgeable in the techniques used to produce these prints have suggested that the process involved using drypoint to create the approximate forms, before aquatint is then added to complete the detail, including the patterns found within The Coiffure.

This print can be found in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, USA. This institution features an enviable selection of art and antiques from all manner of different cultures and civilisations, helping to make it one of the most visited cultural attractions anywhere in the city. In terms of art related to Cassatt's own career, there is some important traditional European art from previous movements, including Jan van Eyck's Crucifixion and Last Judgement diptych, Opening of the Fifth Seal by El Greco, The Fortune Teller by Georges de la Tour and also The Repast of the Lion by Henri Rousseau. Beyond that, there are simply tens of thousands of exciting items to be found here, many of which are regularly rotated in order to allow as many as possible to be displayed to the public. Much of their collection has been built up through generous donations from collectors who have visited the location themselves in previous years and felt inspired to give some of their own items to it.